Thursday 27 June 2019

Mark Hughes admits Southampton need to start taking risks to avoid relegation

Saints are four points from safety with as many games remaining.

Leicester City v Southampton – Premier League – King Power Stadium
Leicester City v Southampton – Premier League – King Power Stadium

By Sean Taylor, Press Association Sport

Southampton boss Mark Hughes knows his team must throw caution to the wind in their remaining games if they are to stay in the Premier League.

Saints halted their losing run but a goalless draw at Leicester does little for their survival hopes. Hughes’ side arrived at the King Power Stadium five points adrift of safety with five matches remaining, following four straight league defeats.

It is not exactly mission impossible for Southampton as club’s have survived from the position they are in, or worse, on four occasions in Premier League history.

Whether Saints can join Bradford (1999/00), West Ham (2006/07), Fulham (2007/08) and Sunderland (2013/14) remains to be seen, but Hughes acknowledges the growing importance for a victory after eight league games without a win.

“We will have to wait until the rest of the season to see if that’s a significant point one way or the other,” said Hughes, whose side are four points behind Swansea – who they play in Wales in the penultimate match of the season.

“But given the fact we haven’t been able to pick up any points in recent weeks, clearly it is a positive and we must take it as a positive.

“The importance of taking something out of the game shouldn’t be underestimated, I don’t think. But we are going to get to a point where we are just going to have to throw everything at it.

“Maybe tonight wasn’t the game for that but certainly that is going to be in my mindset that we are going to have to get maximum points. We are going to have to take more risks in the games coming up and that’s where we find ourselves, unfortunately.

“We didn’t come here with the intention to play for a draw, we were going to be aggressive if we were allowed to be. Performance-wise I don’t think we got anywhere near the level we did against Arsenal or Chelsea, but we didn’t get any points out of those games.

“There was a little bit of apprehension in our play, which is understandable to an extent as we knew we needed something out of the game.”

The stalemate also halted back-to-back losses for Leicester, who remain without a home win in the league since January 20.

“I am happy with our performance, the players gave their best and we are disappointed not to win,” said Foxes boss Claude Puel.

“The performance was good with lots of good chances and good play on the floor, good tempo. It is a shame we did not score but if we repeat this kind of play we will win more points.”

Puel, against his former club, made five changes following the defeat at Burnley. Captain Wes Morgan was dropped for the first time, injury or suspension aside, but the manager said the defender took the news like a professional.

“I didn’t know it was the first time,” said Puel. “I think for me it is normal in a team and for me he remains our captain. He is a valuable player for us and it is not a problem.

“He had a good reaction and helped his team in the dressing room, which is important. It is important the players keep good concentration and focus for the squad.”

Press Association

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